“Friends never say goodbye” — Elton John

OK, more like mentors never actually say goodbye. After this long, exhausting and equally wonderful and uplifting semester, I really made some huge connections with the students at Broad Ripple. When I first walked into the school, I noticed the student artwork hanging on the walls—the different self-portraits they created and was instantly teleported back to middle school. Leaving the building for hopefully not the last time, I felt like I got to experience the positives and negatives all over again.

I never thought I would say I was sad leaving middle school students, but I most definitely felt tears well up when I gave our group knucks for the last time and dabbed to our fam with them. I hope to see people like T— again, who, even though he portrays himself as “The Distractor,” is one of the most passionate students who comes to Butler Writers. I expect to see him there every week. I also hope that R— keeps finding his way there, his hyperactive, big personality in a small body so concerned about keeping a well-maintained hairline (also very passionate about staying in class with the other students).

But every time I saw them, I saw myself: a young student of color trying to navigate the drama and the embarrassments of middle school. As somebody who came from a predominately white middle school, it was refreshing to see these students surrounded by other students of color. I felt like they could always relate to each other, and I could relate to them given my own personal history. After a semester with these students, I hope that this isn’t a goodbye. I hope this is a see ya later, and most importantly, I hope these students realize that there will always be someone there to support them, as there are so many of us who pass through each semester.

Camara Wallace is a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing program.